Sex-doll case hard to figure

Brian Jones bjones@thetelegram.com
Published on January 15, 2016
Brian Jones

If you’re curious about how Kenneth Harrison obtained the “child-like sex doll” he is charged with sending through the mail, you better be careful if you look into it, just for interest’s sake, of course.

If you Google “sex doll,” you could become a child-pornography suspect, because you might have broken the Criminal Code of Canada’s S. 163.1, which prohibits any “visual representation” of sexual activity with a person — real or depicted — under the age of 18.

You better hope the state never has cause to seize or search your computer, because you could find yourself charged as a child-pornographer.

Child pornography is a nasty bit of business. Some conservative creeps might defend it because it creates jobs in Asia and boosts the tourism industry, but generally the broader public sees it for the cruel scourge it is.

That said, child-pornography laws are so expansive they encompass not just actions, but thoughts and fantasies. The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits versions of Orwell’s thought-crimes.

(Granted, it has become a cliché to deride something as “Orwellian,” but that is because so much of George Orwell’s gothic vision of an intrusive and dominating state has come to pass, three decades after 1984.)

You won’t see pictures of Harrison’s alleged child-like sex doll in the media. As far as I know, the RNC has never circulated such images, but even if it did, any media outlet that published or broadcast them would be — you guessed it — in contravention of S. 163.1 of the Criminal Code.

The police, on the other hand, would be immune from prosecution for disseminating child pornography because S. 163.1(6) of the Criminal Code thoughtfully exempts such an action that “has a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice.”

Was Harrison’s child-like sex doll homemade? Is there a factory somewhere in China that mass-produces sex dolls? If so, do they make child models as well as adult models? Do they come in 11-, 13- and 15-year-old versions? Do they, as you’d suspect, make more girl models than boy models? Do they produce a gender-neutral version?

For goodness sake, don’t Google it. Whatever pops up on your screen will almost certainly put you in contravention of S. 163.1.

Let’s be clear. Sexual abuse is a crime. Perversion in your own head is not.

Sexual abusers must be stopped. Perverts being stopped … well, that’s much more tricky. When the long arm of the law is granted authority to reach into someone’s mind, well, we’re back to talking about Orwell.

When it was introduced some years ago, Canada’s child-pornography law was immensely controversial, for the reasons cited here, as well as others. Unfortunately, the controversy has faded away, although the law’s faults remain. The country’s legal community seems to not be bothered by the fact there are people being jailed despite having hurt or harmed no one.

The standard argument is that if the police can nab a pervert before he — and it is invariably a he — actually molests or abuses a child, then the law is valid. Orwell could smash that supposition to smithereens in a sentence or two.

I can’t, but let me suggest a scenario to put the tactic in context. Police often announce they have caught an “online predator.” Usually, a cop poses as a kid online and trolls for perverts. A creep looking for sex chats up the “kid,” arranges a meeting and boom — busted. Such entrapment is deemed justified because it supposedly prevents a real child from being victimized.

And yet, we don’t see preventative policing to stop, say, robberies. Police aren’t setting up fake convenience stores or pharmacies to entice dirt bags into them, thus protecting real convenience stores and pharmacies.

It comes down to this: never mind the perverts. Arrest real abusers.

Brian Jones is a copy editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at bjones@thetelegram.com.